JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, July 18, 2017 —
Keeping an 80,000-pound aircraft flying safely doesn’t just happen by accident. Rather, precision machines the size of a blue whale are kept soaring safely through the skies by the dedication of dozens of airmen, not the least of whom are crew chiefs.
Having grown up in an Air National Guard family, enlisting seemed like the right thing for Airman 1st Class Trevor Galindo. Looking up to his father, a retired HC-130 Hercules crew chief, and later watching his older brother, Airman 1st Class Dalton Galindo, enlist as a loadmaster, Galindo had a good idea of what he would be getting into when he signed up to become a crew chief with the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here.
“What motivated me to join the Air National Guard was the amazing opportunities it has to offer,” Galindo said. “My father and older brother spoke about all the benefits like becoming part of something bigger than yourself and the lifelong skills you can take anywhere.”
As a crew chief, Galindo routinely inspects, maintains, repairs and cleans HC-130Js, as well as consulting with system specialists to precisely troubleshoot more in-depth problems.
A typical duty day has a focus on maintaining strong lines of communication across the team. Starting their morning with a brief meeting, crew chiefs make sure they’re aware of both their own and their peers’ training and inspections. This level of accountability ensures the maximum amount of time is spent on maintaining aircraft, which furthers skill development for the airmen and ensures they can complete their mission.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome in this career has been understanding some of the more complicated characteristics of the aircraft,” Galindo said. “I’m always trying to learn something new, and my co-workers have been instrumental in helping me learn more every day. I was never a mechanically inclined person, but I picked this career because I enjoy planes and wanted to improve my mechanical ability because I found it interesting.”
In addition to giving him challenges and the tools to overcome them, Galindo said that pursuing his career as a crew chief for the Alaska Air National Guard is helping him with college expenses through the Guard's competitive tuition assistance program. It's also preparing him for a career outside of the military ahead of his civilian counterparts.
While civilian students can spend years studying for certifications, Air National Guardsmen have the opportunity to learn their trade in military technical school and then hone their skills in their squadron during drill weekends and annual training. The time airmen spend working in their units translates directly into professional civilian certifications through the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program.
“There are a lot of non-military jobs that being an Air National Guard crew chief can prepare you for. You can work for the FAA, FedEx, UPS, and any other company that may have aircraft; or you can work on any other types of mechanics because of the advanced skills applied in this job,” Galindo said.
He said that ultimately, joining the Alaska Air National Guard was the best choice for him, adding that he is also thankful that he was hired into a full-time crew chief position with his unit.
“The Alaska National Guard has made me a better person; I have more pride in everything that I do since I started my career here,” Galindo said. “This job pushes me to keep going and pursue higher achievements.”